Frontier boys ready for States

  • Frontier's Alex Sharp runs down the final stretch to a fourth place finish during the Western Massachusetts Division II Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Northfield Mountain. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech's Sohan Tyner runs down the final stretch to a ninth place finish during the Western Massachusetts Division II Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Northfield Mountain. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Above, Mohawk’s Meghan Davis (370) and Greenfield’s Amy O’Sullivan (187) lead their teams at the start of the Western Massachusetts Division II Cross Country Championships last weekend at Northfield Mountain. Below, Franklin Tech’s Sohan Tyner crossed the finish line in ninth last weekend. All three will be in action this weekend at the Wrentham Development Center at the MIAA Division II State Championships. RECORDER File photos/DAN LITTLE

  • Above, Frontier’s Alex Sharp heads for the finish line and a fourth-place finish at last weekend’s WMass Division II Boys’ Cross Country Championships at Northfield Mountain Recreation Area. Right, Carsten Carey crosses the finish line in second place during the WMass Division II meet. On Saturday, Sharp and Carey will lead the Red Hawks to the Wrentham Development Center for the State Division II meet where Frontier will compete for the third consecutive season. RECORDER FILE PHOTOS/DAN LITTLE

Recorder Intern
Thursday, November 16, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — It’s not every day that an area team qualifies for the MIAA State Cross Country Championships.

In fact, Frontier Regional School coach Bob Smith has been coaching since 1979 and in his 39 years of coaching, he has had just three teams qualify for the meet. Those three teams just happen to be his Frontier team from each of the past three seasons.

For the third consecutive season, the Red Hawks followed up a strong regular season by punching their ticket to the state meet, which takes place Saturday at the Wrentham Development Center, which is located near Gillette Stadium. The boys’ Division II race starts at 11 a.m., while the girls’ Division II race kicks off at 12:20 p.m.

Frontier was unbeaten in the regular season this fall and won the Pioneer North title. The team then captured second place at last weekend’s WMass Division II meet at Northfield Mountain, finishing just behind Mt. Greylock Regional High School.

“These boys are really an exceptional group,” said Smith when asked how this team is different from decades past.

Smith has literally coached generations of runners. The fact that this is only the third team to have reached the state meet in his tenure as coach proves just how hard it is to make it this far into a season.

“It is very difficult,” said Smith.

Co-coach Walt Flynn is in his 28th season of coaching cross-country at Frontier but has been coaching the sport since 1976. Both coaches understand that cross-country doesn’t come with the glamor that other high school sports get.

“These kids are toiling in obscurity,” said Flynn.

“One day, I looked at the school’s schedule for that day’s upcoming sporting events,” said Smith. “Cross-country wasn’t on there. … but we had a meet that day.”

Nevertheless, the two coaches are proud of their team’s accomplishment. In order to qualify for states as a team must needs two things: good runners and depth, and that is exactly what Frontier has. The Red Hawks had five runners finish in the top 26 at the WMass Division II meet, exactly what is needed to perform well. Carsten Carey finished second overall, while teammate Alex Sharp was fourth. Ben Litskoski (12th), Peter Carey (22nd) and Daniel Dejnak (26th) rounded out the scoring at the WMass meet. Frontier’s sixth runner, George Balis, came in 42nd. Those six will be joined at the state meet by teammates Brandyn Robinson, Jack Donohue, Phaelon Koski and George Tsaplin.

The athletes themselves also know how big of an accomplishment this is and how well they are doing.

“We know we’re special,” said Carsten Carey. “We’re confident that we’re going to do better than we did last year.”

Many of the runners on this year’s team have been with the squad each of the past two years when Frontier qualified for the State meet. The Red Hawks finished last both seasons, something they would like to improve upon this fall.

“We’re trying to do better than the last two years,” said Carey, “Our goal is to win.”

The team agreed in unison, followed by some laughter: “We want Mt. Greylock,” they said.

No matter how they finish, just making it to this point says a lot about the quality of the athletes on the team. And the fact that only one of the top seven runners on the squad is a senior (Litskoski), there’s no reason to think that next fall won’t be Smith’s fourth team to qualify for WMass.

“Either way, we’ll be back next year, better than ever,” said Carey.

And while cross country may not be as glamorous as some of the other sports, on Saturday, there will be plenty of eyes set on Wrentham to see just how well this year’s squad can do at the state level.

Franklin County will also have several individual runners representing their schools. On the boys’ side, Franklin County Technical School’s Sohan Tyner and Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s Dennis Simmons will each be in the field. Tyner finished 61st at the State meet last season. Simmons is making his debut.

On the girls’ side, Mohawk’s Meghan Davis joins three girls’ from Greenfield High School as Amy O’Sullivan, Jamie Day and Courtney Danielsen each qualified. Davis finished 17th overall last season as a sophomore and is coming off a second-place finish at WMass. O’Sullivan finished 50th last season as a junior, while Day took 99th. This is Danielsen’s first time at the state meet.